Millenials are unlike any other generation that has come before. With 80 million born between 1980 and 2000, Millenials represent the largest age group in American history. They are also perhaps the most self-centered generation the world has ever seen. Fifty-eight percent more college students scored higher on a narcissism test in 2009 than in 1982. Forty percent of Millenials believe they should be promoted at work every 2 years regardless of their performance. They’re also obsessed with fame: three times as many middle school girls would rather be a personal assistant to a celebrity than a U. S. Senator.
Indeed, Millenials receive plenty of criticism for their incessant texting, tweeting and heightened opinions about themselves. But then again, entitled tween Twitterers could be the result of a culture too reliant on participation trophies. Starting in the 1970s, the so-called “Me Generation” went to great lengths to instill their children with strong feelings of self-esteem. Critics of Millenials fear that this coddled generation isn’t prepared to face the harsh reality of a world that doesn’t offer them constant praise. However, this rather broad view of Millenials ignores some pertinent facts regarding our ever-changing world.
Those who are lucky enough to have been born in a first-world country in the late 20th or early 21st century live in a land of abundance. Information and opportunities once only available to the rich are now only a click/tap/tweet away. Life expectancy is increasing at a breakneck pace, and new technologies are allowing more women to be able to have children into their 40s. When such big life decisions can be easily postponed, why wouldn’t a young, hungry go-getter take a job at a social media startup instead of beginning her ascent up the corporate ladder? After all, social media didn’t even exist as an industry a decade ago. And with all these innovative skills coupled with an eager desire to challenge the status quo, who knows what new technologies will be produced at the hands of Millenials over the coming years. Take it from one of the biggest Millenial boosters around, Tom Brokaw: “Their great mantra has been: Challenge convention. Find new and better ways of doing things. And so that ethos transcends the wonky people who are inventing new apps and embraces the whole economy.”
- What key value do Millenials bring to the U.S. economy?
- What type of leadership style can expect problems in dealing with Millenials?
Source: Joel Stein, “Millenials: The Me Me Me Generation,” Time, May 20, 2013. Photo by Abitha Arabella.